As the seasons change this time of year, it is always ideal to boost your immunity.
A weakened immune system leaves the body vulnerable to virtually every type of illness and disease, especially during these seasonal shifts when viruses cause coughs and colds.
Although the immune system can recognize viral strains it has encountered and beaten off before, it will not recognize a new virus that has mutated.
Even the smallest genetic change will trick it into thinking it's a brand new species, for which it has no antibodies. And while a strong immune system will cope with this attack, one that has been weakened by poor nutrition and too much stress will struggle to get back to good health.
Fatigue, lethargy, repeated infections, slow wound healing, allergies, thrush, yeast infections, colds and flu are all signs that the body's immune system is functioning subpar. A healthy adult, for example, should suffer no more than two colds a year — so if you do succumb more to every passing infection, you definitely need to start supporting your immune system.
As yogis, it is crucial that we take care of ourselves. Taking care of yourself on the go starts with taking care of yourself at home. Getting enough rest, eating healthy foods, exercising and practicing mediation, and avoiding excess alcohol or caffeine, will help you maintain optimal health.
Heavy physical training is also associated with depressed immune function and can be further aggravated by inadequate nutrition. The body's susceptibility to a respiratory infection can be elevated for 24 hours after a tough workout, and a demanding race can impair your immune function for up to two weeks. Combining training with the demands of your job can overtax your resources, stress the body and compromise your ability to fight infection.
Training with optimal stores of carbohydrate not only provide fuel for your workouts, but will also support a strong immune system. Endurance athletes who train in a carbohydrate depleted state experience greater increases in the stress hormones that can increase during exercise.
Here are eight practical tips to help you stay healthy this cold and flu season, whether you're a yogi, an athlete, or just wanting to be healthy:
1. Stay hydrated and eat at regular intervals.
I always have a bar of some sort with me. Hitting the grocery store for carrots, organic apples, or even tuna, should always be a priority. If you're traveling, try to stay away from food served on your flight. I always bring some apples, turkey and veggies, packed in small plastic bags.
Studies have shown that meditation boosts the immune system. Not to mention, people who meditate are much happier and healthier too. There have been numerous studies showing that meditation dramatically reduces, and even reverses disease of all types.
3. Take Ashwagandha.
This amazing Ayurvedic herb boosts and strengthens the immune system. It also provides for a better nights' sleep and balances your hormones.
4. Stock up on probiotics.
These are crucial for maintaining good intestinal health. When the digestive system is working properly, germs have less of a chance to grab hold. Keep in mind that probiotics are best taken on an empty stomach.
5. Get a daily boost with vitamin C powder.
I start my day with two packages, mixed with six ounces of water. These little packets are loaded with vitamin C and are easily absorbed by your body.
6. Get plenty of vitamin C in foods and supplements.
We are all aware that vitamin C is associated with cold and flu prevention, so don't underestimate the power of consuming good food sources of this vitamin, too!
7. Don't forget about vitamin E.
This antioxidant nutrient helps slow down the signs of aging, while strengthening the body's cells that fight infection. If you eat foods rich in vitamin E or take supplements, you'll have an added weapon to fight off bacteria and other viruses.
8. Eat organic fruits and vegetables.
Poor nutrition is a common cause of a weakened immune response. Organic fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of phytochemicals that provide many preventative health benefits.
Managing your stress, eating clean and healthy foods, doing yoga and meditation, and getting plenty of rest will go a long way to support a strong immune system. Here's to your health!